Initial Names: From AJ to Zee
Today we’re celebrating names that are made of initials, from AJ to Zee.
Initial nicknames are a fun way to shorten a formal full name into something more casual, like Spiderman’s Mary Jane “MJ” Watson, Alexander James “AJ” McLean of the Backstreet Boys, or Dallas’s John Ross “J.R.” Ewing.
Some parents prefer to skip the formalities and put the initials straight onto the birth certificate. At the extreme end of the spectrum are names like X Æ A-XII, Grimes and Elon Musk’s older son.
But initial names don’t have to be so out-there. Here are some fun ways you can use them.
Two-Letter Initial Names
If you know you only want to call your child a two-letter nickname like CJ or KP, you could put it straight on the birth certificate. It may narrow their options — whereas Callum Jax has the choice of being CJ, Callum, Cal, or something else — but it keeps things simple.
Here are two-initial names recorded for children in the States in recent years. The most popular is AJ, given to 77 boys in 2021, followed by CJ and RJ, given to 33 boys each.
This style is more popular for boys than girls, though a few girls are occasionally registered with a two-letter nickname.
Combinations with a J initial are by far the most popular. This may be because John and James have traditionally been very common middle names, and also because the "Jay" sound is still cool in modern names like Jacob and Jayden.
There are a couple of false friends and uncertainties in the data. “Jr” on a birth certificate may represent the initials JR, or could be Junior. “Md” could be initials, but is more likely to be a shortening of Mohammed, often for a child who goes by his middle name.
Spelled-Out Initial Names
If you like the sound of initial names but want them to look substantial on paper, you could use a spelled-out version. Here are some from recent US records. A few of them, like Gigi and Vivi, are "traveling lite" names that are one of the top trends for this year.
Accidental Initial Names
There’s a special bunch of names that happen to sound like two initials, even though they have a completely different origin. You may know people with them — or even have one yourself — without realizing.
They can be a fun way to play with initials, and give a secret layer of meaning to a name. Take Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s daughter, Blue: her middle name, Ivy, is thought to be a pun on IV, the Roman numeral for four, a significant number for her parents.
It could be a hidden honor name, like Casey to honor grandpa Kevin Charles. Or Emmie after your home state of Maine (ME). Bonus points if it works as both initials and a diminutive, like Edie for Edith Diane, or Katie for Katerina Therese.
These are some legit names that also sound like initials:
Then there are the names that, by chance or design, sound like letters of the alphabet. They’re great in their own right — short, sweet and punchy — and again, can also be subtle ways to honor loved ones with the same initial.
The most widely-used single-initial names are:
If using an initial name as a first name isn’t your style, you could slip it into the middle spot. The classic example is Harry S Truman: S was his complete middle name, honoring two grandfathers with S names.
Or you could just wait for your child to choose their own middle initial. J.K. Rowling has no middle name, but added K to her pen name in honor of her grandmother Kathleen. Michael J. Fox’s middle name is Andrew, but he preferred the sound of J to distinguish him from another actor named Michael Fox.